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Another Record-Setting OBS April Sale Concludes

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$1.3-million son of Into Mischief | Photos by Z

By Jessica Martini & Christie DeBernardis

OCALA, FL – The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s April Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training produced a sales record gross, average and median for the third straight year when it concluded Friday in Central Florida. The blockbuster auction also included three seven-figure transactions and saved its biggest figure for last with the $1.3-million sale of a colt by Into Mischief late in Friday’s session. The juvenile was purchased by bloodstock agent Justin Casse from the de Meric Sales consignment, which also sold a $1-million daughter of Quality Road during the auction.

In all, 672 juveniles grossed $73,183,000 during the four-day auction, bettering the previous record gross set last year of $68,541,500 for 698 horses sold. The average, which was $98,197 a year ago, rose 10.9% to a new sales best of $108,903 and the median rose 7% to $60,000. The four-day buy-back rate was 19.7%. It was 18.1% a year ago.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the horses,” said OBS President Tom Ventura. “The consignors have complete confidence in this sale and they bring top quality. It’s borne itself out, not only in the ring, but also on the racetrack. Which is more important than what they bring in the ring, in my opinion. They have to perform and that keeps the buyers coming back and gets new buyers interested.”

The auction’s top 10-priced lots were all purchased by separate buying interests and reflected the sale’s deep buying bench, according to Ventura.

“I think the buying bench was very deep and, for the most part, the competition for the top horses wasn’t just two buyers, it was multiple buyers that got in on some of these top horses. And the people that brought the very top horses were spread around. Down below the very top was strong as well.”

The international buying bench continued to be a major presence at the April sale, with Narvick International and Korea’s K.O.I.D. Co., Ltd among the top five buyers.

“I think it’s been an upward spiraling effect, simply because of the production of the horses that have come out of the sale,” said OBS Director of Sales Tod Wojciechowski. “I don’t think we’d get the international trade without horses doing well in Japan, in Korea, and in the Middle East. That’s what’s bringing the people here. It’s the quality horses and those horses are producing on the track as well. I’m impressed each year with the amount of international trade that gets added to the domestic buying bench.”

The $1.3-million sale-topping Into Mischief colt, who had been a $300,000 yearling purchase, may not have been rerouted to the April sale of years past, but is indicative of a change of attitudes.

“There is no hesitation to put a $300,000 Into Mischief in the April sale and it turns out to bring $1.3 million,” Ventura said. “That’s been shifting in that direction for quite a while now. The consignors used to have some concerns–what is the question mark with this horse that was an expensive purchase. Now it’s, ‘Let’s put the horse where it deserves to be when it deserves to be there.’ And the buyers are super comfortable at this stage of the game that it doesn’t matter if they are in March, April or June. So it really is a combination that the buyers have come to the point of, ‘Well let me see what the horses are.’ And it doesn’t matter where they are selling. They just better be nice horses and they better be sound.”

At the conclusion of last year’s April sale, Ciaran Dunne remarked, “We came here with April horses and people came here with March horses, so it is hard to compete. You scratch your head and wonder where you go with April horses from now on.”

The Irishman adjusted his program and his Wavertree Stables came away as the sale’s leading consignor with 37 sold for $6,636,500, including a $1.2-million son of Liam’s Map.

“I probably overreacted in that we left ourselves pretty naked in March in terms of we didn’t bring any proper colts,” Dunne reflected Friday. “It was a little stressful. When March was so good, we wondered if it would carry through to April or if we’d be left holding the bag. We brought what we thought was a super strong group of colts here and they didn’t let us down. They performed on the racetrack and we were fortunate enough to get by the veterinary hoops and it’s worked out really well.”

Dunne said it looked like there was added strength throughout the market at the April sale.

“I will say this market is a lot deeper than I would have given it credit for,” he said. “I think if you take to the likes of Eddie [Woods], Niall [Brennan], Nick [de Meric], we’ve been able to move horses at a lower level. We are in a better position to do that than some of the smaller consignors because we have a lot of eggs in our basket, so when it’s time to move on, we can. And if you are willing to take your lumps, there is someone there. Which is great. I think there are new faces, the middle and the bottom seem strong enough to me.”

De Meric Sales was the auction’s second-leading consignor and Nick de Meric agreed there was a broader middle market in Ocala this week.

“It has been pretty good top to bottom,” de Meric said. “As you can see from the results, we have led some cheap horses through there, but we have gotten new zip codes for them. If you have a market this deep where you can sell a $10,000 horse and a $1.3 million horse and everything in between, you can’t really complain about it. I think the key, as always, is appraising them right. You have to know what you are leading through there.”

Eddie Woods, third-leading April consignor, continued to see a weakness in the lower market.

“The good horses are bringing all the money, almost stupidly so at times,” Woods said. “It is great if you have them. If you have the rest of the field, there is no one here for them or very, very few. We have sold a lot of horses by moving them on with very low reserves or no reserves and no vet work and they have brought $70,000 or $80,000, which is mind boggling to me. And we have brought some up here with no reserve that have brought $6,000. You don’t know. Ciaran is killing them here with nice horses and they are just flocking to him.”

With 672 of 837 offered horses sold, the buy-back was a very respectable 19.7%. But of the 1,221 horses catalogued, 384 were withdrawn. Consignor Becky Thomas said the number of scratched horses was significant.

“It’s very, very high on the top end, like our market,” Thomas said. “I know everyone uses the same term, but it’s so polarized. If you hit that upper echelon, you rock it. Consequently, I don’t think it’s the number of RNAs that are telling. It’s the number of horses who are withdrawn.”

Buyer Steve Young thought the sale gained strength throughout the week.

“Without being someone that analyzes as much as other people, I think it is a very bizarre sale,” Young said. “I think there are horses from the first day that were worth significantly more than what they were bought back for. I think when you have a four-day sale like this, sometimes the first day is like the first round of a fight, where people are just feeling each other out. I think there are some horses that brought a lot more money than they probably figured to bring.”

Casse Stays Strong for Into Mischief Colt

After being the underbidder on several horses earlier in the week, Justin Casse refused to go home without hip 1165, and his determination won out in the end as he signed the $1.3 million slip on the OBS April sale topper.

“You will find out who it is for soon enough, but hopefully we are talking about the horse again a year from now,” said Casse, who signed as Team Casse. “I had to have him. He was my pick of the sale really. He just happened to be at the end. We kept getting beat up pretty well all week. I think we have been underbidder five times more than we have gotten anything.”

The bay is out of the unraced Dixie Song (Fusaichi Pegasus), a half-sister to MSW By the Light (Malibu Moon), who produced MGISW By the Moon (Indian Charlie). Hip 1165 worked in :21 flat for his consignor de Meric Sales.

“I don’t know that any animal is flawless, but he is very close to it,” Casse said. “He is very well balanced. He is a very good walker. He had a phenomenal time and carried his speed through the gallop out. You have speed on the top side and distance on the bottom side, so we love the whole combination.”

As for the breeze, the bloodstock agent said, “He is such a fluid mover. The times we had for him were in the top three of the sale. These are performance-based sales and he did what he was asked to do. At the end of the shank, he was just a cool customer.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Into Mischief Colt Highlights Dream Sale for de Merics

A colt by Into Mischief (hip 1165), who topped the OBS April Sale at $1.3 million, was the cherry on top of a banner sales week for de Meric Sales, who were also responsible for a $1 million Quality Road filly (hip 444) during Wednesday’s session. The de Merics came in a close second behind Wavertree for leading consignor with 41 horses bringing $6,564,000.

“I am retiring. That’s my next move,” joked a smiling Nick de Meric at his barn following their second seven-figure sale of the week. “It is going to be hard to top these past few days. It’s been a wonderful sale. Tristan and Val take care of all of our pinhooks and I take care of more of the racehorses going to the trainers. That is how our division works. These horses have just shone here and they deserve a lot of credit for that.”

The de Merics purchased hip 1165, who was bred by Jim and Pam Robinson’s Brandywine Farm, for $300,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale.

“We were hoping to get him for a little less at Saratoga,” de Meric said. “We stuck our necks out there, but we are glad we did it. He was so balanced and athletic.”

Tristan de Meric added, “He was a no-brainer for a 2-year-old sale. We love the sire.”

Nick de Meric agreed, saying, “The sire has been good to us. We are big fans. I just put six Into Mischiefs on a van to Chad Brown that Tristan and I bought as weanlings and raised and trained. We are big fans of this amazing young sire.”

The de Merics broke and trained a talented son of Into Mischief in MGISW Practical Joke and Tristan de Meric compared hip 1165 to that colt, who now stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud.

“He is very similar to Practical Joke in a lot of ways,” de Meric said. “He looks like one who could go out there and win the Hopeful. You can go right on with him and he could be any kind. We liked him from the beginning and had high hopes for him.”

He added, “We knew he would do well and we knew the right people were there. We let them determine what he was worth at the end of the day. I can’t say enough about how great the sale has been overall.”

After selling the $1 million Quality Road filly Wednesday, who was a $220,000 KEESEP buy, Tristan de Meric indicated his family’s operation had stepped up their game at last year’s yearling auctions, spending a little more than they typically do.

When asked the reason for that change in strategy, de Meric said, “We knew we needed some top offerings for this year with the polarity of the market. We wanted to be in the top 10% of the sales we took our horses to. I feel like we did a good job of rounding up the right ones. We have been well rewarded. It has just been a phenomenal sale. It was an outstanding group of horses. I can’t say enough about our crew, our partners and everybody involved.”

Nick de Meric added, “We have the best staff here on the grounds and at home. We couldn’t do it without them.”

@CDeBernardisTDN

Young Strikes for Candy Ride Colt

After a furious round of bidding midway through Friday’s final session, Steve Young was the last man standing for a $975,000 son of Candy Ride (Arg) (hip 1066). The bloodstock agent was acting on behalf of an undisclosed client, but indicated that the colt would be trained by Todd Pletcher.

“I think he is very special,” Young said after signing the ticket. “He is by a proper sire, more than a proper sire. The dam is a half-sister to the dam of a Breeders’ Cup winner [Caledonia Road (Quality Road)]. You go down to Vespers and Database, a Stuart Janney family. Those horses are as tough as they get with a ton of two-turn ability.”

The Illinois native continued, “We hoped we would get him for less, but that is what these horses cost. He is 12 times the stud fee. Some of these other horses around here are bringing 25 to 30 times the stud fee. I think this is a proper horse and if we are right, he could find himself in a stallion barn. He is a terrific horse. We couldn’t be happier.”

The :10 flat breezer is out of MSW & GSP Citizen Advocate (Proud Citizen), a half-sister to the dam of champion Caledonia Road and stakes winner One of a Kind (Lemon Drop Kid).

“He did everything but come off the ground,” Young said of the colt’s breeze. “He did great.”

Young continued, “I was fortunate enough to see Candy Ride run in Argentina. I think there are little subtle things that the good ones have and the ones that are less fortunate don’t, and he’s got them. If he is brave and lucky, we should be alright.”

Consigned by Ciaran Dunne’s Wavertree Stables, hip 1066 was bred by Tom Mara’s Whitehall Lane Farm, which claimed Citizen Advocate for $40,000 in 2011. Mara sold an Arch filly out of the mare for $320,000 at the 2015 OBS August Sale.

“Tom Mara is one of our original clients,” said Dunne, who was leading consignor for the sale and sold a $1.2 million Liam’s Map colt during Thursday’s session. “He has been with us for 25 years through thick and thin. He claimed the mare, ran her and bred this colt. He made the decision last year that he wanted to try him at a 2-year-old sale. He has pinhooked in the past, but Tommy loves to race. I think part of the reason, he wanted to come to the 2-year-old sales, was he was putting off the decision to sell him as long as he could, but colts like him are hard to come by.” @CDeBernardisTDN

Medaglia d’Oro Filly to Stonestreet

Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables added a filly by Medaglia d’Oro to its roster Friday in Ocala, going to $825,000 to acquire the dark bay (hip 1111) from Becky Thomas’s Sequel Bloodstock consignment.

Out of Critikal Reason (Aptitude), the dark bay filly is a half-sister to Grade I-placed Bajan (Speightstown) and to graded- placed Virtual Machine (Drosselmeyer). She zipped a furlong during last week’s preview in :9 4/5.

Sequel’s Al Pike signed the ticket on the youngster at $172,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton October Sale on behalf of owner Lewis Laken. The plan was originally to race the filly, according to Thomas.

“I was purchasing her on Mr. Laken’s behalf,” Thomas explained. “He planned on racing her. He is a breeder and he had a couple of horses who didn’t X-ray well enough to be able to go to the sale and he had a bunch of racehorses that he wasn’t really planning on it. So we bought her to race, but we decided to sell her because he had others he couldn’t sell.”

The laid back filly surprised Thomas by her speed, the horsewoman said.

“She is very, very quiet–she grazed right up until right before we went to come in here,” Thomas said. “She has the greatest mind ever. So it really wasn’t really until I put my breeze rider on her a couple of works before we came here and it was like, ‘Whoa! You don’t need to do that again.’ She’s just a piece of cake, easy horse to be that quick. Lucas Marquardt did a brilliant job of coming to the farm to do a dirt video so we could show how she moves on the dirt and then see how she moves here.”

The filly was the third purchase of the April sale for Stonestreet. The operation purchased a colt by Street Boss (hip 856) Thursday for $535,000 and a colt by Kantharos (hip 785) in partnership with LNJ Foxwood for $150,000. @JessMartiniTDN

Cairo Prince Filly Headed to New York

A filly by Cairo Prince (Hip 1112) is headed to the Big Apple after being purchased by Belmont-based conditioner Jeremiah Englehart for $525,000 Friday. The horseman was acting on behalf of clients Al Gold, Orlando DiRienzo and Nolan Russo.

“It was a filly we really liked and they decided to team up here late,” Englehart said. “She was one of my favorite fillies in the sale. [Consignor] Eddie [Woods] seemed to like her a lot. She is just a really pretty filly, so hopefully she can run.”

As for her :21 flat breeze, Englehart said, “She did it really easy. Time wise, it didn’t look like she did it that fast, but she checked all the boxes.”

Bred by Mr. and Mrs. Nick Bentley, the dark bay is a half-sister to stakes winner Perfect Wife (Majesticperfection). They are out of the unraced Street Sense mare Crozat, who is a half-sibling to GSW & MGISP Jungle Prince (Sir Cat). Hip 1112 RNA’d for $65,000 as a weanling at Keeneland November and was purchased by Marc Tacher for $182,000 at Keeneland September.

“She is tall, leggy, elegant.” Woods said. “She has done everything right all winter.” @CDeBernardisTDN

WinStar, China Horse Club Partner on American Pharoah Colt

When Sean Tugel made a final bid of $500,000 for a son of American Pharoah, the colt was already a well-known quantity to WinStar Farm’s director of bloodstock.

“He’s a horse that was born on the farm and we raised,” Tugel explained. “China Horse Club bred the horse, so it’s a horse that we’ve known for quite some time. We broke him on the farm and Niall [Brennan] has done a great job with him since we sent him down there. We’ve been able to follow him for some time.”

The colt (hip 1178) is out of graded stakes winner Dundalk Dust (Military), a mare China Horse Club purchased for $270,000 at the 2014 Keeneland November sale. He worked a furlong during last week’s under-tack show in :10 2/5.

WinStar’s Maverick Racing and China Horse Club partnered on Friday’s purchase. WinStar Farm lost American Pharoah’s sire Pioneerof the Nile in March and Tugel admitted this could be a colt who could possibly help to replace that loss down the road.

“He’s by American Pharoah, obviously a Triple Crown winner, and we lost Pioneerof the Nile during the season. He has the pedigree to be a future stallion. Every time we look at a colt we seriously consider if that can be an end-option for him. We hope he could be one that could fill the shoes of some of the older boys.”

Maverick and China Horse Club also teamed up on a colt by Carpe Diem (hip 1055) purchased for $240,000 Friday. @JessMartiniTDN

Pioneerof the Nile Colt Joins Casse Barn

A colt by Pioneerof the Nile will be joining Mark Casse’s barn after bloodstock agent Justin Casse signed the ticket at $460,000 on the youngster early in Friday’s final session of the OBS April sale. Mark Casse trained juvenile champion Classic Empire by the same sire.

“We’ve had luck with the sire,” Justin Casse acknowledged after signing the ticket on hip 919. “He galloped out very well and looks like a very athletic horse.”

The colt is out of multiple stakes winner and graded-placed Apple Martini (Giant’s Causeway) and was consigned by J.R. and Katie Boyd’s Brick City Thoroughbreds. The Boyds teamed with Stuart and Meg Turlington and Global Thoroughbreds to purchase the youngster for just $15,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

“It was a shrewd buy by the vendor,” Casse said. “Last night, I looked back on my notes on him as a yearling and I had decent notes on him. So that made me feel a little bit more comfortable that I had some positive notes on him as a yearling considering how cheaply he had sold then. There was one conformational fault that I thought he had slightly as a yearling and that was unnoticeable now. In my notes on him as a yearling, I had him as a very athletic horse with a good neck and shoulder. And he had that back at the barn. He has some similarities to Classic Empire in the way he looked with more of a refined look to him.”

J.R. Boyd said he and his wife had the colt on their radar throughout the day he sold at Keeneland last fall.

“Katie and I sat there and watched him all day,” Boyd said. “He was part of a dispersal and was selling without reserve. He was just a little immature, but we watched him all day hoping to get him.”

The partnership on the yearling came about shortly before he went through the ring.

“My wife and I thought we’d found a horse,” Boyd explained. “And Stuart walked up in the back walking ring and said, ‘Who is that?’ And I said, ‘That’s the horse I’ve been talking about.’ He said, ‘I’m in.’ And then Global walked up and said they were in, too. I told Katie, ‘It’s probably going to be $75,000.’ Then he brought $15,000 and we thought, ‘Well, we don’t need anybody else!’ But I kept them in. My word is my word and we all partner up on a lot of horses together.”

The colt, who worked a quarter mile during last week’s under-tack preview in :21 3/5, stood out on the sales grounds, according to Boyd.

“He’s blossomed into one of the prettiest horses on the grounds,” Boyd said. “He’s turned out really pretty with a long, sexy walk on him.”

Brick City Thoroughbreds has been represented by several high-priced sales this week in Ocala. The consignment was responsible for a filly by Empire Maker (hip 352) who sold for $450,000 and a colt by Tiznow (hip 208) who brought $420,000.

“We’ve had an outstanding sale,” Boyd said. “It’s exceeded our expectations. We had really good horses and we didn’t have a shin on a horse in the barn. Everything was sound and ready to go to the next level.” @JessMartiniTDN

Tonalist Colt a Score for Hubbard

Brooke Hubbard, who has served as racing manager for Steve Young’s Sayjay Racing for five years now, enjoyed the biggest pinhooking score of her young career when a colt by Tonalist brought a final bid of $450,000 from Bradley Thoroughbreds Friday in Ocala. Hubbard signed the ticket at $60,000 on the colt at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

“Overall, he was very balanced,” Hubbard said of the colt’s appeal last fall. “He wasn’t too big or small. He was in the middle. I had vetted a bunch of Tonalists and he was the only one that I vetted that, when I walked up there, no one else was back there to bid. So I thought I had landed on the gold mine.”

The bay (hip 926) is out of Arabian Song (Forestry), a half-sister to multiple group-placed Bodes Galaxy (Ire) (Marju {Ire}). Consigned by Wavertree Stables, he is from the first crop of GI Belmont S. winner Tonalist (Tapit).

“I wanted at least one Tonalist,” Hubbard said. “I saw a few that I liked that went for quite a bit of money. So after a few of those after Book 1, I was in search of something a little bit cheaper priced.”

The juvenile, who worked a quarter-mile last week in :21 flat, has made rapid progress in just the last month, according to Hubbard.

“He has stretched out top and bottom and he’s grown all over,” Hubbard said. “He’s actually matured a lot in the last month.”

Of watching the colt bring her biggest success to date in the sales ring, the California native said, “It was pretty exciting. I was back with [Wavertree Stables’] Ciaran Dunne and his daughter and we all had a group hug after. They were pretty excited for me because we’ve been trying to pinhook for a while.” @JessMartiniTDN

Woods Hits a Homerun with Lea Colt

A colt from the first crop of Lea (First Samurai) proved to be a sharp pinhook for Eddie Woods, blossoming from a $45,000 FTKJUL yearling to a $430,000 juvenile purchase Friday at OBS. Hip 1188 was purchased by Nicholas Bachalard, who signed the ticket as J.A.S.

“I knew he was going to sell well,” Woods said. “He was kind of a desperation horse at the end of the night, one of the last chances to buy a nice horse. I thought he was more of a $250,000 horse, but two guys get into it and it stemmed from $200,000. I will take it all day.”

Bred by Ellen B. Kill Kelley, the :21 1/5 breezer hails from the family of stakes winners American Century (Pioneering) and Energized (Defrere). Woods purchased the Apr. 25 foal at the July Sale under his Quarter Pole Enterprises.

“He was a big, smooth-walking horse,” Woods said of his initial impressions of the colt as a yearling. “He was very babyish because he was very young.”

The horseman continued, “In December, I thought I lost my mind because he looked like a clothes rack, all hips and bones and head and ewe-necked. All of a sudden when the weather changed going into the spring, here he came. He just blossomed. We went to working him and he was awesome and here we are.”

This is the first crop of racing age for Claiborne’s Lea, who won the 2014 GI Donn H. When asked his impressions of the young sire’s offspring, Woods said, “We have another one that is going to go racing. Other than that, I don’t have a lot of experience with them, but this one has been really good to us and the one on the farm is a nice filly.” @CDeBernardisTDN

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